Here’s a good article from Wired on how Facebook is leveraging our friends to give a good predictor at potential romantic relationships. Click through for the full read.
For a long time, social scientists have believed that embeddedness—the number of mutual friends you share with someone—is the best indicator of how close you are to that person, romantically or otherwise. That seems to make a certain intuitive sense: After all, if you know a lot of people in common, aren’t you more likely to know someone well? Not so fast. As Kleinberg and Backstrom learned, a more accurate barometer of a relationship status is not how many people you have in common, it’s what kinds of friends you have in common.
This idea, dubbed “dispersion” by the researchers, is a measure of how many overlapping social circles a friend touches in your network. An easy way to think of it is this: Pick out a colleague and you’ll likely have dozens of friends in common with that person on Facebook, the majority of whom also work with you. You share a lot of people in common, but is this person your closest friend? Probably not. Rather, the people you’re closest to likely share friends who span across your different social spheres—work, school and family—regardless of the total number of mutual friends. The degree to which you share friends across many spheres yields far better predictions about the nature of your real-world relationships.